Boston-New York used to mean something, but now?

Boston-New York used to mean something, but now?
May 22, 2013, 12:45 pm
Share This Post

Sometime late last night, after the Bruins wrapped up their third straight win over the Rangers, I stumbled across this sad little fact about the storied Boston/New York rivalry: It’s not in a very good place.
 
Consider this: Over the last 10 years, there have been only four playoff series between teams from New York and Boston (we’re talking series, so only MLB, NHL and NBA) and all four have started with one team going up 3-0.
 
Naturally, one of them (the 2004 ALCS) quickly morphed into one of the best and most historic playoffs series of all time, but since then, we’ve had the Celtics go up 3-0 and eventually sweep the Knicks in 2011; the Knicks go up 3-0 and eventually knock out the Celtics last month; and now, the Bruins have jumped out to a 3-0 lead on the Rangers. In rivalry terms, that pretty much defines disappointment.
 
Over that time, we also had two insane New York/Boston Super Bowls, but the AFC/NFC rivalry never quite works. In the case of the Pats and Giants, it’s impossible to sustain the necessary level of animosity when in most years, your only match up comes in the preseason. And while there have been a few playoff games between the Pats and Jets since 2004, highlighted — in terms of drama — by New York’s 2011 upset, it will be a while before Pats/Jets is anything close to what it was back then. For now, the Jets are better off setting their sights on BC, or more fittingly, the BU football team.
 
Celtics/Knicks may have hit its apex as well. Between the Carmelo/KG and Jason Terry/JR Smith dynamics, as well as the whole funeral narrative that played out in Game 5, this year’s series was still intense, even if it was one-sided. But moving forward, with both Paul Pierce and KG potentially on the way out, and Terry maybe not far behind, also, with the Knicks up against some serious cap restraints and likely destined for a rocky future, this year’s first-round series might be the best we see from this match-up in a while.
 
On the diamond, the Sox and Yankees are currently in a battle for first place in the AL East, but it doesn’t feel like it. Time, age and injuries, the fact that’s it’s been almost a decade since they’ve met in the postseason, that recently each team has had way too much to worry about in their own backyard to get wrapped up in what’s going on with their rival -- all of it has rendered Sox/Yankees a shadow of what that rivalry once was.
 
On the bright side, there’s this: The Sox and Yanks have only played once so far this season — a three game series in the Bronx to kick off the year. They only play once more — another three-game series in the Bronx (May 31-June 2) — before the All Star Break. As a result, the second half of this season is going to be jam packed with Sox/Yankees, to the tune of 13 games, with nine of them played at Fenway. That’s a recipe for a rivalry revamp, especially if both teams can stay in contention. Still, even if they do rekindle, it will only be a start. We’ll need at least one playoff series before we can really get excited.
 
And that brings us back to the current installment of the Boston/New York sports rivalry, and the saddest exhibition yet: Bruins/Rangers
 
Sure, there are a lot of things working against this one. First, that these two teams don’t even play in the same division. Also, that they haven’t met in the playoffs in more than 40 years. That of the 23 Bruins to see ice time in this postseason, only two are American and grew up in the vicinity of the historic relationship between Boston/New York. There’s also the “issue” of the Bruins just straight outplaying the Rangers in nearly every facet of the game.
 
Still, watching these first three contests, even with the Original 6 narrative hanging over everything, there’s nothing Boston/New York about it. The Bruins and Rangers might as well be from Seattle and Tampa Bay.
 
Of course, as long as the Bruins come out on top, none of this will matter all that much. But as the B’s roll, the once proud Boston/New York rivalry will take another hit. And unless the Sox and Yankees have something special planned for this fall, it may be a long time before we see this rivalry return to greatness.